‘A former knight, an archer, and an assassin?’
‘Maybe I can just create my own camouflaged fighting brigade.’
How shocked would the enemy be if a Flying Skeletons Brigade and a group of cooks, artists, and sculptors, who are actually experts, showed up to fight them?
Cale slowly started to smile.
“They are all above average in ability?”
“Yes. All three of them are at about Vice Captain Hilsman-nim’s level.”
Raon asked, but Cale did not answer. Instead, he looked toward Ron. Choi Han was dull when it came to things like this, but Ron was not. Ron started to smile as soon as they made eye contact.
“Young master-nim, isn’t this territory a better place to live than you expected?”
“Seems that way.”
Count Deruth was currently in the process of fortifying the castle wall ever since Cale told him about the Northern Alliance. It was a large-scale construction using Mueller’s blueprints.
Furthermore, his father was busy increasing the number of soldiers, as well as their skill level. Of course, he was not taxing the citizens of the territory to do that. If he was, would they all come here to celebrate like this?
Count Deruth was putting his own money to work. However, it did not seem like it was enough yet.
Cale leaned his body into the very soft couch. He was in a position that would make it easy for him to fall asleep, however, such a position was fitting for Cale.
“Yes. That man over there is the archer.”
The art competition was currently underway. It was more like an event than a competition though.
The artwork went through a first round of judging before the second round was conducted in public to determine the winner. The qualifiers from the first round were showing off their artwork of the Stone Mountain and quarry behind the Henituse Castle.
There would be a winner from this event.
Cale turned his gaze to the archer artist that Choi Han had pointed out.
The short-haired man with a long beard jumped up and started to swing his brush in the form of an X on the easel.
“Not this! Why am I so terrible? How could I call such trash art?! My hands are crazy!”
The paint flew everywhere as the man clenched his hair.
“I am trash! Art is not something like this!”
Cale started to think while looking at the painting.
‘But it is really good.’
Cale looked toward Choi Han, who avoided his gaze. Choi Han could not make eye contact, but still started to speak.
“He is quite sensitive. He has been in the territory for the shortest amount of time, at only 3 months. They say that he built a house next to the white tree at the top of the slums, saying that it is the source of his inspiration.”
‘What is the source of his inspiration?’
Cale looked down to see On and Hong meowing in laughter.
The Man-Eating Tree located in the slums where Cale had earned his first ancient power, the, ‘Indestructible Shield.’ That tree had turned white with blue leaves thanks to Cale.
“This, this isn’t it! I can’t show this trash to people!”
Cale started to speak to Ron.
“Let’s pass on that guy.”
The White Tree in the slums reacted to Cale because he was the owner of the Indestructible Shield. So, what if the tree was to react to Cale when he went to visit that archer?
‘I may end up becoming his muse.’
He had a bad feeling that something like that would definitely happen.
“What about the sculptor? Will they come to the preliminaries tomorrow?”
“They did not make it through.”
Mm. Choi Han contemplated for a moment before continuing on.
“They came in last place. They seem to have no talent for sculpting.”
“But they are skilled in assassination.”
Ron interjected and asked Cale.
“Young master-nim, should I reserve a restaurant?”
Cale debated whether he should go see the chef first as he leisurely watched the art competition. Of course, it didn’t need to be said that he sighed at the artist archer who called himself trash before running out of the area.
Lily’s pupils were shaking. Cale just ignored this and entered the restaurant called, ‘A Place of Warmth.’
“Welcome young master Cale.”
The son of the territory’s lord had visited. It was only natural that the chef came out to respectfully greet him.
The old man in his seventies was fit, but the years had definitely taken a toll on his body. Cale was shocked when he had learned about this old man, but did not find it to be weird.
“I will guide you to your reserved room.”
The restaurants in front of the castle frequently prepared a separate room for when the staff at the castle brought guests over. Cale made eye contact with the old man, who could see Cale quietly looking directly at him.
Lily seemed very nervous as she looked back and forth between the chef and Cale.
Finally, Cale reached his hand out to the chef.
“It is my honor to meet my mother’s teacher.”
Lily was shocked as she looked at the chef and started to shout.
“Master, you are mother’s teacher, ah!”
Master. The word she subconsciously said made Lily cover her mouth with both hands. Lily started to roll her eyes around the room while trying to figure out what to say, when she saw that her brother was smiling. She was caught.
‘It was a secret from the family! No!’
However, Lily did not know that Countess Violan had known about her master a long time ago.
“I came because I wanted to meet my mother’s teacher and my sister’s master.”
The chef remained quiet as he observed Cale, before starting to laugh.
“I do not deserve to be called the Countess’s teacher. You flatter me.”
The chef, Edro, was a former captain of a Knights’ Brigade.
Cale recalled what Ron had reported about Edro.
‘The people who have lived in this territory for more than 15 years know about this man’s identity. He arrived with the Countess.’
Violan was from a fallen noble family. She had arrived at the Henituse territory to trade for luxury goods while she was running a merchant guild.
Edro was the one who was responsible for keeping her group safe during that trip.
He was the Knight Captain of Violan’s family, and when Violan said that she wanted to jump into the cruel world of merchants, he gave up his life as a Knight and turned into a mercenary in order to protect her.
‘He is said to be the Countess’s sword instructor when she was younger.’
Count Deruth and even Basen were able to handle the sword, like most nobles. Violan was not an exception, and knew the basics as well.
‘He stayed here, saying that it was his dream to be a chef when the Countess married Lord Deruth.’
Cale, Lily, and Basen did not know about this, as it had happened more than fifteen years ago. Apparently, his father had built this restaurant for Edro as well.
“I heard that the food here is wonderful. I came with high expectations.”
Cale smiled softly while Edro stiffened up a bit.
‘There was no trash worse than this bastard.’
In the past, Edro had thought that he needed to teach a bastard like Cale some tough love after seeing Cale drinking and causing a ruckus. He was not one to tolerate such a rotten person.
“It should be up to your standards.”
Edro confidently answered before guiding Cale to the room.
Cale and Lily were in the same room while the rest of the group was in a different room. This was so that Raon, On, and Hong could eat in peace.
“I will serve you.”
Ron followed behind Cale and made eye contact with Edro. Edro had heard from the Countess that Ron was an assassin. He was shocked at that fact, but shocked even more at the fact that Ron’s skill level was so high that he could not see how strong Ron was.
“You sly bastard.”
“Haha. Hyung-nim, you are the same.”
Edro cautiously observed the benign smile on Ron’s face. He saw Lily and Cale sitting in the room and slowly closed the door. He needed to go cook. Ron followed behind him.
At that moment, Edro could hear what Cale was saying to Lily.
“He is a talented swordsman. Learn properly.”
Edro looked toward Ron.
“Our young master is all grown up.”
Ron could see Cale looking at him past Edro’s shoulder as Edro was closing the door. Cale did grow up well. He grew up into a very sly person.
The door closed completely with a quiet noise and Ron started to say the things that were prepared in advance.
“Hyung-nim, our young master-nim wanted to see you because of Miss Lily, but also because he wanted to meet the person who used to serve the Countess. We did not inform the Countess of our visit, so please keep it a secret for us.”
Ron added something extra from what Cale had told him to say.
“Our young master-nim seems to want to learn about his mother’s life now.”
Edro, the old man in his seventies who sacrificed everything he had for his liege and student, started to think deeply. He could still hear Cale and Lily’s conversation through the door.
“Lily, I believe that you will become an amazing swordsman.”
“Thank you, orabuni. I will become the Guardian Knight who protects this territory!”
Edro let out a fake cough before heading toward the kitchen. Ron followed behind him while recalling what Cale had told him to do.
‘Make it so that Edro will want to step up if the territory is in danger in the future. It’ll be difficult for him to be in the frontlines due to his age, but having someone like him step up is bound to strike at people’s hearts. Don’t you agree?’
Cale had grown up very smart and sly. Of course, Ron liked it like this.
They had set the bait for at least one person.
After dinner, it was time for the second person.
Honestly speaking, this was the last person, since they decided to forget about the archer.
Cale was wearing a brown robe while Mary, who was wearing a black robe, the invisible Raon, and Choi Han, who was holding On and Hong in his arms, walked next to him.
The busy night market was filled with people as Cale quietly walked by with his hood on.
Cale let out a sigh and turned around. Deputy butler Hans was chasing after them.
“Add three chicken skewers as well.”
“Yes, yes sir! I will go buy some chicken skewers for our lovely trio!”
Hans had multiple bags of food in his arms. They were all things that they were going to eat back home. Cale shook his head at Hans’s excitement before continuing to walk.
He stopped walking in front of one of the many trinket stalls.
A shocked woman jumped up and welcomed Cale.
‘This is serious.’
Cale was speechless while looking at the mysterious sculptures. He looked at the woman in front of him.
This was the sculptor who they believed to be a talented assassin.
‘She is definitely skilled. I was not able to figure out her true identity. Young master-nim, for an assassin, half of it lies in their ability to hide their identity.’
He pointed to one of the sculptures.
“Is this a devil?”
The gentle woman who seemed to be in her forties, had a mild presence that was more like your sweet next-door neighbor.
However, these sculptures were quite … unique.
Although he could not tell what they were, they all seemed cold and eerie. It made him think about things like devils, swords, and eternal darkness.
“Aigoo, it is a flower. It is a forsythia.”
This was a talent of its own. Cale truly believed that as he picked up the sculpture. Cale thought it was a growling devil.
“You are right. It is a forsythia. I want to buy this one.”
“Yes. I want to gift this to someone special.”
Cale just bullshitted with whatever came to mind. This process of building a relationship really was difficult.
“Is this one, a … tiger?”
“It is a lovely rabbit!”
“…Yes, give me this one too.”
The rabbit looked like the devil’s guard dog.
“Thank you very much!”
“No, these are wonderful sculptures.”
Cale picked up the two sculptures and continued to gently speak to the sculptor until the end.
“They are my style.”
“I have never heard such praise before. I am so touched!”
The middle-aged woman’s eyes were full of admiration. Cale was sure about one thing while looking at her acting this way.
‘She really is a good actress.’
People would really think she was a sculptor who had no talent but loved to sculpt and be touched by her passion.
He recalled what Ron had told him.
‘It is amazing that she was not noticed until now.’
‘She is one of two things.’
‘An assassin or a spy.’
The results of their investigation revealed that she was not a spy.
They didn’t know the reason for her coming to the Henituse territory, but she had pretended to be a sculptor here for the past three years. Ron said that he had never seen her before and that, even when he saw her, he was only able to tell her hidden identity because Choi Han had said that she was strong.
Cale received the devil-rabbit and devil-forsythia that the woman handed him. He took out some money from his bag and handed it to her.
“Aigoo, I do not have any change.”
A gold coin fell into her hand. The poor sculptor did not know what to do about it. Cale started to speak.
“It is my gift for all the toil you went through.”
“…You are the first to recognize my hard work.”
Cale slightly removed his hood while looking at the touched middle-aged woman. Cale Henituse, the face of the territory’s Lord’s son was revealed.
“Huh? Y, young master-nim!”
The sculptor became shocked and quickly tried to bow.
She really was a good actress. Cale approached her and whispered in her ear.
“It is my gift for your struggle while being on the run.”
“Isn’t it hard to live in hiding?”
The middle-aged woman’s eyes became cold. At that moment, someone appeared behind Cale. He had suddenly appeared without making a single noise.
“Ron, you take care of the rest.”
“Yes, young master-nim.”
Cale started to speak to the sculptor assassin who had a shocked expression on her face but a cold gaze in her eyes.
“A gold coin should be enough for you to stop working for today. You should have plenty of time to chat with Ron.”
The sculptor assassin on the run, Freesia, did not notice Ron approaching. This was someone who was able to trick her sharp assassin senses. She was shocked while looking at Ron.
Cale put on a gentle smile as he continued to speak to Freesia.
“Isn’t it difficult to run?”
The second person was caught, as they had planned.
“Young master-nim, I will take care of the rest.”
Cale left it to Ron, since an assassin would be best at chatting with another assassin.
Ron asked Cale if he needed information. Cale naturally needed information. He had survived until now relying on information he had from reading the novel, but that was ending. He was desperate for more information about the future. He only had about one year or two at max with the information he currently had.
‘I will pay you back for my arm and my lie.’
Ron said he would pay him back, even when Cale said it was not needed.
On and Hong could instinctually feel that the sculptor was similar to them. Just the fact that Freesia was on the run made them like this person, who may become Ron’s student or subordinate.
The sculptures that even On and Hong found disgusting were safely moved to Raon’s treasure chest, his other dimension.
A few days later, Cale put his signature on a file on the last day of the festival.
“Yes, young master-nim.”
“I am happy to sponsor such a promising sculptor like yourself.”
The gentle Freesia clasped her hands together with a modest and admiring expression.
“Young master-nim, although I have only been sculpting for three years, I will definitely become someone big in the sculpting world!”
Cale, Ron, and Freesia were all smiling at this nonsense.
‘Apparently she killed the chief.’
‘Their assassin guild’s rule was to only take assassination jobs between nobles. However, the new chief took on a job to kidnap a young child. She called him a crazy bastard and killed him for trying to do that job, before running away.’
‘Is she being chased by the guild?’
‘No. She also tried to kill the noble who commissioned the job.’
This sculptor was a bold one.
‘Who is the noble?’
‘They belong to a vassal household of the family that oversees the Southwest.’
He had hit the jackpot.
If the Southeast was touching the Whipper Kingdom, then Southwest was next to the Empire. This would be useful to him in the future.
“Freesia, I look forward to many sculptures in the future.”
“Yes sir. I will only bring sculptures that you will like.”
Ron knew that they were not really talking about sculptures.
‘She said there are others on the run who used to follow her as well.’
Cale naturally responded for them to all gather here.
Shouldn’t he do it properly if he was going to make a camouflaged fighting brigade?
Cale sent Freesia and Ron out before looking at the calendar in the study. His gaze was specifically looking at three weeks later.
‘It’ll come quickly.’
Three weeks passed by quickly, as Cale expected.
“N, noona, sob.”
Rosalyn let out a sigh while the fourth prince was crying while holding Rosalyn’s hand.
“How could my sister be in such a shabby and terrible place! My sister, who is the best in the world! Why would you stay somewhere like this with nothing but rocks? Sob, staying at a lowly Count’s territory! Why! Sob!”
Cale casually picked up a cookie while listening to the fourth prince.
He could see that a round water orb was on top of Rosalyn’s palm. He had never seen Rosalyn look so angry before.
Raon’s voice was cold.
This was none other than the immature crybaby of a prince that Rosalyn had mentioned. However, that prince did not even dare to look at Cale right now.
Cale had put on the dominating aura for the first time in a while in order to look at the fourth prince.
‘A lowly Count’s family without any power or influence wants to serve my sister?’
That was the first thing the fourth prince named Pen had said when Cale went to greet him. He turned on the dominating aura from that moment on.
The sound of Cale eating his cookie could be heard throughout the room. The fourth prince avoided Cale’s gaze even more.
Cale continued to eat the cookie with a gentle expression on his face.
For reference, Cale hated the immature crybaby types the most.